03 October 2008

Kicking Off the GHC

GHC08 - Thursday, 2 October

(Top: a beautiful morning view, Bottom: Fran Allen delivering her keynote speech) Today was full of insightful, moving and inspiring stories. Officially kicking off the conference this morning was the Welcome and keynote address from Fran Allen. Fran's address regarded the history of computing, reaching back to COBOL and pressing forward to the future of computing for women. This year Fran was the first woman to receive the A.M. Turing Award, the most prestigious award in Computer Science (aka the Nobel Prize of Computing). Here is something incredible: 54 people have received this award. Fran is the first woman after the award's establishment in 1966. Fran said, "The patterns of computing seem laid out like carefully choreographed dance steps where men lead and women follow. We must break out of this box. Many designs are already too antiquated for the new global systems and refitting old solutions to new situations is not going to work.

The Thursday agenda is this: breakfast (I was forced to eat cake as the lesser of two evils when compared to donuts, hehe), the welcome and keynote, session 1, break, session 2, break and lunch, a CTO plenary forum, break, session 4, Birds of a Feather, the awards ceremony reception and the awards ceremony itself.

So what was I up to with all of that going on? After the welcome and keynote I went to a session entitled "How to Manage Your Career When "Life Gets in the Way." While I was on the young end of the spectrum of the audience I gained valuable insight on some challenges Life will likely put towards me. Panelists included Kathleen E Naughton of HP, Jody Mahoney of the ABI, Celeste Null of Intel, Valentina Salapura of IBM, Rebecca Coleman of Microsoft and Henry Schauer, also of HP, who offered a male perspective on the subject. The panelists discussed their background, situation and how they handled (or how they are currently handling) family issues such as elderly parents, handicap children, cancer, etc. One panelist really captured me when she stated that the only way to overcome these challenges is to make the best decision you can based on what you know at that time and what your heart is telling you, and don't look back.

(Jen, Candice, myself and Stephanie at lunch) I took a break to work on my last blog entry during the second session, and met up with Jen, Stephanie and Candice for lunch, which was delicious (tiramisu for dessert and Tazo tea!).

Next up was the CTO Plenary which was very fascinating (also new to the conference). Panelists discussed leading technology and included Sophie Vandebroek of Xerox, Nan Mattai of Rockwell Collins, Greg (say this 10 times fast) Papadopoulos of Sun Microsystems, and Justin Rattner of Intel. Kate Greene of MIT Technology Review moderated. Each panelist had a fabulous story and a great personality. I really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere with these leaders and hearing about their experiences. It was great to hear that each of them started out like many new hires and just worked their way up, demonstrating that anyone can make it to the top if they apply themselves and prove worthy.

(Myself, Margot and another lady working on our Snap Circuit, Jr. project) I mingled and networked with other attendees, causing me to miss the third session. That led into a break and then the fourth session which I thoroughly enjoyed: Inspiring Girls in Technology: How to Make Every Outreach a Success. Panelists for this interactive discussion and forum included Linda Kekelis of the Chabot Space and Science Center, Shannon Madison of Google, Reena Singhal Lee, also of Google, and Marie-Ange Eyoum of Intel. These ladies were so energetic, had valuable insight and creative ideas that got me thinking ahead towards coordinating with Lockheed Martin and working with young girls in the Orlando area. I had the great pleasure of meeting a fabulous lady, Margot Miller of Sun Microsystems, who became my partner for the exercises the audience took part in. One really cool thing we did was that we learned about voltage, current and resistance using a fantastic kit called Snap Circuit, Jr. I don't know where this kit was when I took ECET 214, but, man! It was so cool! Margot and I also did a drawing activity that represented giving instructions to a computer. Both of us, and several others, I'm sure, walked out of the room with tons of great ideas for engaging young girls into the field of Technology.

After the fourth session I saw that I had an hour of downtime during which I chatted with Adam. He's doing well back home with interviews and exams. A change in the GHC schedule was that the big sit-down dinner was moved from tonight to Friday night, and since I was already back at my suite by the time I learned this, I skipped dinner to nap (although it was more tossing and turning). I woke up and tuned into the VP Debate re-run on CNN. That's over now (more on the debate in a later post), I'm warping this post up, and heading to bed. Check back again for a post on tomorrow's events at the GHC!


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